When you buy decor and don’t like it when you get it home, you always have the option to return it. You might regret the purchase or resent the time it takes to take it back to the store or you might even call it a loss and throw it in a closet, but you won’t beat yourself up about it too badly.
With do-it-yourself projects, it doesn’t work that way. You can’t get the time and money you put into the project back. So when you don’t like the end result, it hurts.
I used to think of DIY projects linearly; I made it, so of course I will like it. I didn’t see any other option. Sadly, the truth is, I didn’t like a lot of things I made. I just didn’t want to admit it.
There’s lots of reasons you might not like a DIY project when it’s done; it doesn’t turn out the way you expected, the style is off, or it looks handmade in a bad way. Sometimes you can like the end result, but resent the piece because it was harder to make then you thought it would be.
When you make something–putting in your own sweat and tears to create it–and it doesn’t turn out, you feel uncreative, defeated, and wasteful.
But you shouldn’t. Try this new way of thinking about your DIY fails. Maybe you’ve heard this before:
“There is no failure. Only feedback.” ~Robert Allen
What if you turned it around and used DIY fails as feedback? Instead of dwelling on why it didn’t work out, reflect on what you learned from the experience. Start with this list of questions:
What did you learn about your style?
If your project didn’t turn out the way you expected, you might have learned something new about your style. Maybe there is a certain material, color, or look you’ve learned you don’t like. Recognizing this is important so you avoid it in future projects.
What did you learn about working on that type of project?
Sometimes we don’t like the end result of the project, because we didn’t like the work involved. That’s how I feel about building furniture. You might feel that way about sewing, painting, or crafting. It’s important to learn what types of projects you want to DIY.
Would you want to try a similar project in the future (hopefully with a different outcome)?
So this project might not have been a success, but it might still be a good idea. Maybe it can work for a different room or in a different material. If so, keep it in your idea bank for a future DIY, but make sure to answer the next question before attempting the project again.
What would you do differently next time?
Through a failure you’ll probably come up with a whole list of ways you could make the project or end result better. Even if you never want to do this particular type of project again, this is still a good question to answer. It helps you exercise your creativity muscles and the ideas you have to improve this project may help on other projects.
Did you enjoy the process?
DIY projects are usually more involved than we think they will be. If you enjoy problem-solving, creative-thinking, don’t mind doing some re-work, and can handle occasional project failures, then DIY projects are a good fit for you. If not, it’s okay to admit DIY isn’t for you.